Review: Iceage, Lower go loud and fast at Crowbar in Tampa
If you tried to come up with the two most disparate cities possible, Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen and Tampa in the heat of summer wouldn’t be bad candidates.
And yet two of the biggest names in the Danish punk scene, Iceage and Lower, made their way to Ybor City for a show Saturday night at Crowbar.
The former group gained acclaim for their 2011 album New Brigade and have since signed to Matador Records along with fellow hardcore acts Ceremony and F----ed Up. The latter, meanwhile, received a 2,000-word write-up from Pitchfork’s Jenn Pelly, who also profiled Tampa’s Merchandise.
And like Merchandise, Iceage’s success has been somewhat clouded by controversy. The group has been accused of using fascist imagery — although whether they’re guilty, not guilty, or somewhere in between like Joy Division is up for debate.
Certainly, Saturday’s show didn’t indicate anything on the matter. Indeed, it didn’t indicate much of anything beyond that Iceage and Lower — currently on a tour that included a recent stop through Chaos in Tejas — exemplify a scene of efficient, intense and stoically Scandinavian punk.
Opening for the two Danish quartets were Tampa duos Egos, featuring Permanent Makeup’s Chris Nadeau singing into what looked like Dennis Hopper’s mask in Blue Velvet, and Month Mind, featuring a plethora of effects pedals.
Next up was Lower, and though the group has yet to release a full-length album, the crowd still enthusiastically sang along to their set. That’s based largely on the virtues of their Walk on Heads EP and single Someone’s Got It In For Me, with gloomy, moody post-punk very much in line with Iceage.
Among their set list was Walk on Heads’ opening track Craver and the single’s B-side, But There Has To Be More. And frontman Adrian Toubro struck an impassioned presence onstage, occasionally tucking an arm behind his back while delivering a line.
Meanwhile, Iceage’s vocalist-guitarist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt alternated between subdued and striking out. In one moment, he would twirl around the stage and in another, tangle the microphone cord around himself and lurch into the crowd shouting. And despite being perhaps the most photogenic punk ever, he seemingly shunned the spotlight — even kicking a phone out of an audience member’s hands.
One of the set’s standout moments was their performance of Coalition, off their Matador Records debut You’re Nothing. The song’s crashing drums and sped-up, shoegaze-sounding guitars set off a frenzied mosh pit in the crowd.
The group closed with Morals, another track off You’re Nothing. And although the rendition was missing the piano of the album version, Rønnenfelt’s crooning and the kick into the song’s momentum translated equally effectively live.
Iceage’s set only lasted about 20-30 minutes, and the crowd’s calls for an encore were quickly quashed as the lights went up. This only makes the shouts of “excess” that close Coalition all the more ironic.
When it comes to these bands, excess doesn’t factor into the equation.
-- Jimmy Geurts, tbt*